Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Beloit Mindset List, 2017 edition

The Beloit Mindset List is back, with a 2017 edition purporting to map the cultural landscape of eighteen-year-olds entering college this fall. I see three problems with the idea of the Beloit List:

§ The “cultural touchstones” the list claims to collect — in the interest of reminding faculty “to be aware of dated references” — are often mere bits of grit. From this year’s list:

25. Planes have never landed at Stapleton Airport in Denver.

43. Don Shula has always been a fine steak house.
Better scotch those Stapleton Airport analogies, Professor Higginbotham! The kids today won’t “dig” them.

And yes, as the list points out — rather crassly, I think — “Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.” Which means — what, exactly?

§ The list includes items that would be difficult or sometimes impossible to establish as having a basis in fact. For instance:
5. “Dude” has never had a negative tone. [Really? Dude!]

9. Gaga has never been baby talk. [Lady Gaga’s first CD appeared in 2008.]
§ The list fosters the belief that if it hasn’t happened in your lifetime, it isn’t real and you can’t be expected to know about it. It patronizes young adults while purporting to explain them to their elders. I will quote what I wrote in 2010:
What bothers me about the Beloit list involves some unspoken assumptions about reality and young adults. The list reads like a nightmare-version of the proposition that begins Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921): “Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.” “The world is all that is the case” — all that is the case, that is, in the life-experience of a hypothetical eighteen-year-old American student.
Thinking that your reality begins with your year of birth: that’s the most terrible mindset of all.

Previous Beloit List posts
2010 : 2011 : 2012

[“Orange Crate Art: Expressing skepticism about the Beloit Mindset List since 2010.”]

comments: 3

Matt Thomas said...

Argh! This stupid thing again. I yearn for a future in which the only Beloit Mindset List entry is: Students have never known about the Beloit Mindset list.

Michael Leddy said...

Amen. This year’s list seems even sillier than past lists.

Elaine said...

They haven't listened at all, have they?